It Happens to Us All

The number of songs I’ve loved over the years surely numbers in the thousands, but only a handful changed my taste in music.    The first time I heard Suite: Judy Blue Eyes from the album, Crosby, Stills and Nash , I pulled over to the side of the road to listen … I was probably late for work, since the suite of four songs (written by Stephen Stills for his then girlfriend, Judy Collins) runs almost seven and a half minutes.    I bought the album almost immediately and the group became my favorite for several years.    Sure, as their performance at Woodstock showed, their amazing harmonies benefited from studio mixing, edits and retakes … but who cared?   Their music moved from driving (say, Carry On) to romantic (try Just a Song Before I Go) to social commentary (Wooden Ships) with ease and they changed the course of popular music.  Would there have been an Eagles without CSN?

So today, while I was waiting for my car to be washed, I picked up a free local entertainment magazine, Live OC, to pass the time.   I’m definitely not their target demographic … page after page of fashions I couldn’t possibly wear, bands I’d never heard of, and clubs that would probably check my ID CSNt the door to see if I was too old for admission.    But the local Indian Casinos have become the venue of choice for aging rock bands and on a full page color spread for the Fantasy Springs Casino, there they were – Crosby, Stills and Young.    Yikes!  I guess it does happen to us all.

Although they have written some material since their heyday in the seventies, according to the blog Lehigh Valley Music, their August 2009 concert at Musikfest in the Lehigh Valley consisted almost completely of their seventies hits with a few Stephen Stills and Buffalo Springfield numbers thrown in.   As Gary Brokus of the blog said, some wondered out loud why CSN would chose to do a harmonious cover of “Ruby Tuesday” by the Rolling Stones, or add in songs by Bob Dylan.   We want to hear the echoes of our twenties, even if it comes from impostors with white hair and pot bellies.

It got me thinking.   What is it like to reach your sixties (Crosby is 68, Stills 64 and Nash 67) with your life so firmly anchored to your mid-twenties by your musical repertoire and your adoring … if aging … fans.    I tend to think of my inner twenty-six year old as a well meaning but naive young fellow whose idealism was swept up in the liberal and anti-war sentiments of the music he loved.    While CS&N have continued to be active in the political causes they espoused in their music, I’ve followed the maxim:  If you’re not liberal when you’re 25, you have no heart.    If you’re not conservative when you’re 65 (sic), you have no brain*.   I’m in no rush to travel leftward politically but, following the lead of my Inner Curmudgeon, I’m inclined to be too cynical.    If I had to channel my twenty-five year old on stage for two or three hours several times a week, would I  be more idealistic?   And would that be a bad thing?   Maybe I need to tune to the Seventies station on my XM Radio more often and find out.

* Yeah, yeah, I know we Americans take this out of context.   If you’re interested in that discussion try here.

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One Comment on “It Happens to Us All”

  1. truck Says:

    I was conservative at 25 and the older I get (not 65 yet) the more liberal I get. Does that make me an automoton?

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